Crackerjack Greenback Prudent Advice for a Prosperous Future

March 12, 2009

Personal Finance in the Bible: Legal/Government

Filed under: Personal Finance in the Bible,Taxes — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 4:00 am

Bible with Cross Shadow by knowhimonline on Flickr       This is another quick update to let you know that I have added all the verses I’ve found on Legal/Government in the Bible as they relate to personal finance. You can find them on the Personal Finance in the Bible page. Just scroll down and click on the category to see all the Scripture references. Click the Scripture reference if you’d like to read the verse (opens in a new window). The Legal/Government category includes sub-categories of bribes, taxes, and lawsuits.

       That brings the total number of verses in the Bible about personal finance to 657! I still have many verses to add, so we’ll see how close we get to the oft-quoted 2,000 number. I’m not just looking for verses that merely mention money but for those verses that teach us how God wants us to handle our finances. Keep checking in, and I’ll continue to update you as I add more!

January 8, 2009

Simple Ways to Keep More of Your Money in 2009

Filed under: Budgeting,Insurance,Retirement Planning,Saving Money,Taxes — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 4:00 am

This is a guest post from Trisha Wagner. Please take a minute to check out her bio at the end of this article.

       Did the state of the economy last year leave you wondering what 2009 might have in store for your finances? Are you, like the rest of the world, resolved to make some changes to keep more money safely in your pocket or at least your savings account this year? Here are a few simple, yet successful ways to cut your expenses and save more money in the months ahead.

  • File a new W-4 Form – Are you anticipating a tax refund for 2008? If so, it is time to adjust your withholding to match your tax liability. While it is a natural reaction to look forward to that “lump sum” payment from Uncle Sam, couldn’t you make better use of your money EACH month throughout the year? Locate a withholding calculator online to calculate the correct amount of withholding, and file a new W-4 today.
  • Bump up your retirement contributions – Don’t let the recent months deter you from continuing to contribute to your 401(k) or other tax favorable retirement accounts. 2009 brings increased limits for 401(k) contributions allowing up to $16,500 with an additional $5,500 permitted if you are or will be 50 or older by the end of the year. If you can’t or don’t want to contribute the maximum amount you should contribute at least enough to kick in the employer match.
  • Open an online savings account – With so many banking options available to you today, take a few moments and research the options available online. In some cases you can open a savings account with just $1 with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. While you are at it, set up a direct transfer from your checking account so that you don’t even have to “think” about saving money since it will be automatically deducted into your savings account. Remember, if you do an automatic transfer from your bank account you will need to mark the deductions accordingly to avoid mistakes that can lead to costly overdraft fees.
  • Raise your insurance deductibles – This tip is fairly straight forward—raise your deductibles on your auto and home owners insurance and see a reduction in your yearly premium putting money back in your pocket. [Paul says: This is a great tip, but make sure you have enough in savings to cover the increased deductible.]
  • Get a grip on your spending – If you still do not have a budget in place for your household finances, you really have to get on the ball to see savings in the new year. This advice has been told over and over again from all financial mediums, yet I’ve spoken to people who really don’t have any idea how much money they have or where it is going. You simply cannot cut costs if you don’t know where your dollars are going in the first place. Fortunately there are many online tools available that can calculate your spending for you making it easier to see where you can begin to cut back to save some cash.
  • Ditch your debt – This is great advice any time of year, but especially important during a rough economy. Credit card companies are tightening the reins on available credit and increasing the penalties for any transgression such as going over your credit limit or paying late. If you have previously faltered on your goal to reduce your debt now is the time to re-focus and implement an aggressive plan to get out of debt.

Trisha Wagner is a freelance writer for DestroyDebt.com, a debt community featuring debt forums. Trisha writes regularly on the topics of getting out of debt and personal finance.

November 13, 2008

The Way to Wealth – Nuggets of Wisdom from Benjamin Franklin: The Lazy Tax

Filed under: Taxes,The Basics,The Way to Wealth,Values — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 4:00 am

       Continuing our series on Benjamin Franklin’s The Way to Wealth, here is today’s quote:

       “It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part of their time, to be employed in its service. But idleness taxes many of us much more, if we reckon all that is spent in absolute sloth, or doing of nothing, with that which is spent in idle employments or amusements, that amount to nothing.”

The Way to Wealth – Benjamin Franklin

Diamond-Tipped Government?

Fat Sam by Randy Son of Robert on Flickr       When I read the first part of this quote, I wanted to laugh. I personally pay 25% of my income for federal, state, and local taxes including Medicare and Social Security taxes. Franklin says a hard government would tax its people 10%. What would he think of 25%?! 🙂 I often wonder what our Founding Fathers would have to say about the current state of America.

Wasted Time

       On the other hand, how much time do I waste and how much is that time worth? I’m not talking about the necessary leisure to rest from work and spend time with family and friends – but just the shear amount of wasted time where I’m neither working nor involved in some leisure I truly enjoy. How many hours are wasted in front of the television just watching whatever happens to be on (so many better options here)? Or sitting around waiting for a doctor’s appointment (we could be reading instead)? Or time we spend just surfing around on the Internet letting time slip by while we’re so easily distracted with the millions of things you can find online?

       What if we put a dollar value to all that wasted time? How much would it be worth? Would we be able to pay our taxes easier if that money were in our pocket? Would our taxes even need to be so high since there would be more income to tax? Franklin’s point about taxes was that we probably wouldn’t need to complain about them if we actually used our time wisely. What do you think?

November 6, 2008

The Way to Wealth – Nuggets of Wisdom from Benjamin Franklin: Heavy Taxes

Filed under: Taxes,The Basics,The Way to Wealth,Values — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 6:00 am

Benjamin Franklin (Philadelphia - Old City: Second Bank Portrait Gallery - Benjamin Franklin by wallyg on Flickr)       I really like Benjamin Franklin’s “The Way to Wealth”. Taken as a whole, this pamphlet has some very timely advice for the current situation in America. But you can just as easily take it in chunks and find a lot of wisdom in his witty sayings. Well, they were witty for his time and many still are. But some of the words he uses would have been better understood in his day, so I’ll try to put them in context for our time. I’m going to take many excerpts from “The Way to Wealth” and discuss them over several posts.

       “The Way to Wealth” begins with a scene of people about to go shopping who are complaining about the bad times and taxes in their country. (Sound familiar?) One man asks Father Abraham, the main character in this short story, for his advice.

       Father Abraham stood up and replied, “If you would have my advice, I will give it you in short; for ‘A word to the wise is enough,’ as Poor Richard says.”

The Way to Wealth – Benjamin Franklin

       So my posts are going to be short and only discuss one or two nuggets of Old Ben’s wisdom at a time. In case you are wondering, “Poor Richard” was one of Benjamin Franklin’s pseudonyms. Here is today’s quote:

       “Friends,” said he, “the taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly; and from these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by allowing an abatement. However, let us hearken to good advice, and something may be done for us: ‘God helps them that help themselves,’ as Poor Richard says.

The Way to Wealth – Benjamin Franklin

Uncle Sam by AJC1 on Flickr       Yes, the taxes we pay to the government are heavy, but they’re not the only taxes we pay. Our laziness taxes us twice as much as the government does. Our pride taxes us three times as much, and our stupid mistakes tax us four times as much. These heavier taxes cannot be eased by our politicians or tax collectors, so if you want to save yourself from these taxes you’ll have to do it yourself.

       Listen to good advice, take it to heart, and something might be done to help you avoid the taxes of laziness, pride, and foolishness. By the way, “God helps them that help themselves” is not in the Bible, but God does encourage us to work diligently, avoid pride, and seek wisdom many times in the Bible. 😉

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